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Full text of "My country and my people"

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THE    ART    OF    LIVING                   313
apparently blind alley leads suddenly into an open space and
the kitchen leads through a backdoor into an unexpected courtyard. This is to provide for the real in the unreal. Let a door lead into a blind courtyard and conceal the view by placing a few bamboo trees and a few rocks. Thus you suggest something which is not there. Place low balustrades along the top of a wall so as to suggest a roof garden which does not exist. This is to provide for the unreal in the real. Poor scholars who live in crowded houses should follow the method of the boatmen in our native district who make clever arrangements with their limited space on the bows of their boats, making certain modifications. . . . When my wife and I were staying at Yangchow, we lived in a house of only two rooms, but (by such arrangements) the two bedrooms,, the kitchen and the parlour were all arranged with an exquisite effect, and we did not feel the cramping of space. Yun once said laughingly to me, "The arrangements are exquisite enough, but, after all, it lacks the atmosphere of a rich man's house." It was so indeed.
Let us follow for a while these two guileless creatures, a poor Chinese scholar and his artistic wife, and see how they try to squeeze the last drop of happiness from a poor and sorrow-laden life, always fearful of the jealousy of the gods and afraid
that their happiness may not last.
Once I visited my ancestral tombs on a hill and found some pebbles of great beauty with faint tracings on them. On coming back I talked it over with Yun, and said: "People ink putty with Hsiianchow stones in white stone basins because the colours of the two elements blend. The yellow pebbles of this hill, however, are different, and although they are very elegant, they will not blend in colour with putty. What can we do?" "Take some of the worse quality/* said she, "and pound them into small pieces and mix them in the putty before it is dry, and perhaps when it is dry it will be of the same colour." So we did as she suggested, and used a rectangular Yihsing earthen pot, over which we piled up a mountain peak on the left, coming down in undulations to